Trans Comic Stacy Cay Says Tennessee Ban Exposes Comedy Whiners for What They Are
It’s funny how quiet the “comedy is about pushing boundaries” crowd who treat Dave Chappelle like a free-speech martyr have been about the Tennessee drag ban — well, it would be if it wasn’t so predictable.
In the wake of yet another shockingly anti-trans bill passing in the state of Tennessee, transgender performers of all kinds are now at risk of imprisonment for simply performing in a public setting while wearing the clothing that matches their gender identity. The “anti-drag bill” targets the deliberately vague category of “male and female impersonators” who perform in any setting that is not specifically restricted to audience members 18 years of age or older, the penalty for which is a misdemeanor on the first offense and a felony charge on the second.
Though the bill’s proponents claim that the legislation only targets “adult cabaret” performers, the language is intentionally written so that transgender individuals could face criminal charges for any kind of artistic performance outside of explicitly adult venues. Stacy Cay, a Southern transgender comedian, called out the comics and comedy fans who have been bitching and moaning about “oppression” whenever someone tweets that their trans jokes suck with the most succinct summation of the bigoted bill’s effect on comedy.
This is the most frustrating part of the endlessly ignorant debate on “cancel culture” in comedy and the targeting of vulnerable groups like the transgender community with hateful rhetoric thinly veiled as humor — Ricky Gervais isn’t risking anything when he struts onstage and tells a “risky” joke in which he just repeats the transphobic talking point that allowing trans people into the restrooms that fit their identity is opening the floodgates for cis women to be raped by men in dresses. Cay, on the other hand, can now be imprisoned by the state of Tennessee for stepping onstage with a teenager in the audience.
In the spirit of the eminent anti-trans edgelord Bill Maher, here’s a new rule: If you aren’t risking prison time when you tell a joke, you’re not allowed to invoke George Carlin, Lenny Bruce or Mae West when you complain about your supposed “censorship.” That right is reserved for Cay and comedians like her.